• DifferentiatingEgg
    21
    Yes but from your bias on truth being objective, you're conflating that a moral subjectivist would conflate their truth as objective fact with #2 hence you find it inconsistent. You're equating Moral Subjectivity to Moral Objectivity which a person who is a morally subjective wouldn't do.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    the nature of a proposition: they are always objective and absoluteBob Ross

    I see no meaning in this phrase.

    the MS under attack believes that beliefs are true or false, and the value of T/F is not dependent upon another belief (or itself)Moliere

    The MS under attack seems to be the one that thinks «I believe one ought X» and «one ought X» are the same thing. I am not sure that follows from MS. Being so, the inconsistency is avoided by not equating the two.

    But it can be modified pretty easily by noting that 2 can be changed to "feelings/the world make moral propositions true or false"Moliere

    That would no longer be MS, would it?
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    As I explained in the absence of any other truthmaker belief is all we've got. I'm opting for intellectual honesty.Janus

    Okay, I see. You are proposing a kind of moral subjectivism derived from (attenuated) moral skepticism. "Because moral truth is not knowable we just have to go on a best guess or a feeling, but these are not firm or binding." I think this is a live view. I think it still has to contend with the OP. Here is what I have said:

    According to Wikipedia ethical subjectivism is cognitive-propositional, and I have found this to be the case among self-professed subjectivists. I don't think you are disputing this even though your thesis draws near to emotivism, but here is the problem I see with subjectivism and emotivism:

    1. Moral propositions are (meant to be) binding upon oneself and others
    2. Subjectivist and emotivist propositions are in no way binding upon oneself and others
    3. Therefore, subjectivist and emotivist propositions are not moral propositions

    (I.e. Subjectivism and emotivism are therefore not moral theories, because they fail to achieve normativity.)

    "I feel like murdering is abhorrent" (subjectivism) and "Boo murder!" (emotivism) are in no way binding on others, and they are arguably not even binding on oneself. Feelings do not seem to be adequate to justify moral propositions. Going back to the OP, I would say that it is not only beliefs that are inadequate to justify moral propositions, but that feelings are also inadequate.
    Leontiskos
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    That would no longer be MS, would it?Lionino

    That could be, and @Bob Ross would be a better adjudicator since I clearly didn't understand the distinction up front -- I've tried to make the case to him that this would still count on the basis of the wiki articles criteria for MS since the truth of these propositions is still dependent upon the person's attitude in some necessary way while maintaining some cognitive component. Here thinking "feelings/world" is that our feelings being a part of us, and us being a part of the world makes the feelings, in some sense, a world-reference, though not in the usual straightforward way.

    Reducing "oughts" to an is-statement about the speakers moral feelings, however their genuine ethic would define it, and an imperative, so that there is a "binding" part seems to cover the basis of true moral statements, cognitive, and subjective in that it depends upon attitudes (personal, legal, tribal...)
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    I've tried to make the case to him that this would still count on the basis of the wiki articles criteria for MS since the truth of these propositions is still dependent upon the person's attitude in some necessary way while maintaining some cognitive component.Moliere

    Yeah. The only place I found a coherent definition with the OP is Wiki — which is not a source —, other places say stuff like:
    A subjectivist ethical theory is a theory according to which moral judgments about men or their actions are judgments about the way people react to these men and actions—that is, the way they think or feel about them
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    The first part of my response can be found here:

    But we don't have the calculus of attachment just yet.Moliere
    How do you know?Moliere

    The point here is that whatever it is that establishes the hierarchy, it isn't emotion. Emotion does not do calculus. I am convinced that reason establishes the hierarchy, but I am content with the claim that whatever it is, it isn't emotion. This reduced claim seems sufficient to overcome emotion-subjectivism.

    If the truth of all moral language just is the day-to-day operations of living, though, then I think emotions are exactly how hierarchies are established. Fear, guilt, and shame are powerful motivators in moral codes, and they are reinforced by social hierarchies established by emotional attachments.Moliere

    I think this misses the point I have already made about emotion-as-sign vs. emotion-as-cause. To claim that ethics is just emotion-conditioning would be to reject ethics as a cognitive science. "I act this way because my emotions determine me, and my emotions are determined by the conditioning that my parents and society imposed, and their emotions were determined by the conditioning that was imposed upon them, ad infinitum." This is more a theory of emotional determinism than a theory of ethics, and as such it destroys the agency of the human being (as already noted). Ethics involves making choices, not just being pulled around by emotions.

    a person who is surrounded by people who shame them can feel guilt for that particular thing and want to change, or they can feel anger and define themselves against that group, and perhaps they can feel both at the same time in roughly similar proportion (and this is where the sense of free will comes from). Each leads to a kind of articulatable ethic that justifies the choice, so it really would depend upon whether or not the person is attached to this or that ethic if they speak the truthMoliere

    There is causal confusion at play, here. Does the choice lead to the ethic, or does attachment to the ethic lead to the choice? I think the cognitive aspect of ethics is again being trampled, especially if the attachment leads to the choice. Plato would say that reason (choice, deliberation) can be subordinated to the passions, but that this is a form of passion-tyranny.

    In our example the man wouldn't say "One ought not lose their temper" -- that's goofy as hell for someone to say when they are contrite or angry or whatever genuine expression towards an ethic, and a real person's utterance would express this proposition differently. "One ought not lose their temper" is the proposition which the utterance can be reduced to, for the purposes of making the MS position philosophically palatable...Moliere

    But what is the "utterance" which can be reduced to, "One ought not lose their temper"? On your theory of emotion-subjectivism an emotion is supposedly translated into moral propositions of this sort, but I'm still waiting for you to cash out this claim that the emotion is the truth-maker for the moral proposition. Prima facie, the claim doesn't make any sense. What is the emotion that translates into the moral proposition, "One ought not lose their temper"?

    The redemption story is one of recognition, shame, anger, and relief. The cognitive part is all the philosophy, but the reason people seek redemption isn't because of the cognitive part.Moliere

    You worried that I am divorcing reason from emotion, but here it seems that you are the one doing that. You contrast four things with philosophy/the cognitive part and assume that they are devoid of reason: recognition, shame, anger, and relief. I don't think emotions are separable from reason in this way. See for example my analysis of fear <here>.

    Looking at the wiki definition ---

    Ethical subjectivism (also known as moral subjectivism and moral non-objectivism)[1] is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

    (1) Ethical sentences express propositions.
    (2) Some such propositions are true.
    (3) The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people.[2][3]



    3's the proposition under dispute for you, I believe.
    Moliere

    Yep. :up:

    So for any true ethical proposition the MS would try to demonstrate that its truth is dependent upon the attitudes of people, and the same with any false ethical proposition.Moliere

    Yes, or that given the attitude we are to infer the truth of the proposition.

    I think the plausible part of the meta-ethic is that statements of ethics have practical, relational components when they are being followed so there is a sense, if all ethical statements are social creeds and nothing else, then the truth of them, if ethical statements are cognitive, would have to depend upon the attitudes of people because what else is there?Moliere

    I think a shift is occurring here. Instead of trying to support moral propositions in the way that standard ethics does, the moral subjectivist turns to abductive ethical reasoning and combines it with the assumption that whatever best supports moral propositions, sufficiently supports moral propositions. I think the reason moral subjectivism is basically non-existent in professional philosophy is because it is recognized that even if nothing supports moral propositions better than attitudes, it remains the case that attitudes are insufficient to support moral propositions. In that case one turns away from moral cognitivism and classical ethics. (Cf. @Janus)

    (Out for a few days)
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    Your premise that the activity of ethical reasoning is like mathematical reasoning is an opinion, a belief.Fooloso4

    'Never said it was. :roll:
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    Now that you have abandoned your first refutation, please elaborate on where in the OP I make any such conflation?

    If you are just noting that some people hold truth as subjective, then that is true; but it is a minority position, certainly is not the majority position for moral subjectivists (nor classical moral subjectivism), and is absurd. There's nothing biased about it.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    the nature of a proposition: they are always objective and absolute — Bob Ross


    I see no meaning in this phrase.

    :brow:



    If you are not talking about a position which holds that moral judgments (1) are propositional, (2) express something subjective, and (3) at least one is true; then you are not talking about moral subjectivism.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    (@Lionino)

    Moral subjectivism is a three-pronged thesis:

    1. Moral judgments are proposition (i.e., moral cognitivism).
    2. Moral judgments express something subjective (i.e., moral non-objectivism).
    3. At least one moral judgment is true (i.e., moral non-nihilism).

    @Molieres attempted solution, if I remember correctly, denied prong-1 (at best); so it is not a form of moral subjectivism. I think their view is probably a form of emotivism. Moral cognitivism is about cognitive attitudes.
  • DifferentiatingEgg
    21
    1. A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition; and
    2. Beliefs make moral propositions true or false.
    Bob Ross

    Again you're not explicitly framing the statements in the context of moral subjectivism. Moral subjectivism holds that moral propositions have no objective truth values independent of individual belief. So my subjective belief doesn't mean I believe it's a universal value. You see you're stuck in this objective "True" or "False" mode. There isn't a "True" or "False" to a subjective moralist. You have your way I have my way, but as for the right and correct way, that does not exist.

    They're all the same argument, or it seems that way to me, and that's why I was getting at your bias definition for belief and truth. I'm not suggesting that having a bias is bad, but there's not an inconsistency in moral subjectivism once you get beyond the notion of "True" and "False." If I came to you and said your belief is false because it's not my truth, then I'm being objective.
  • Fooloso4
    5.6k
    Your premise that the activity of ethical reasoning is like mathematical reasoning is an opinion, a belief.
    — Fooloso4

    'Never said it was.
    Leontiskos

    What you said is:

    When we engage in ethical reasoning, are we inquiring into whether people believe something, or whether something is right or wrong? I take it that it is obvious that ethical reasoning pertains to the latter, and is not about peoples beliefs.Leontiskos

    By the latter you are referring to what you call "type 1" propositions and give 2+2=4 as the paradigm example. You go on to say:

    I take it that it is obvious that ethical reasoning pertains to the latter ...Leontiskos

    The latter being these type 1 propositions. If ethical reasoning concerns and pertains to type 1 propositions then ethical reasoning is like mathematical reasoning.

    That ethical reasoning is "type 1" reasoning is your belief not an established and uncontested truth.

    In another post from today you say:

    I think the reason moral subjectivism is basically non-existent in professional philosophy is because ...Leontiskos

    Evidently you are unaware and uninformed about the current literature. You will find not only a rejection of moral objectivism, but that the concept of reason itself is once again changing. See, for example, the work of Richard Bernstein or Joseph Margolis.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    The latter being these type 1 propositions. If ethical reasoning concerns and pertains to type 1 propositions then ethical reasoning is like mathematical reasoning.Fooloso4

    Nah, and it's hard to believe that you are even trying to interpret me correctly. The post is <here>. I was obviously using the example of 2+2=4 because Bob Ross had already been using it, not because I think ethics is the same as mathematics. The rather obvious point of that post is that ethical claims are about ethical truths, not beliefs (or beliefs about ethical truths). To read that post and assume that I think ethics is like mathematics is bizarre, and lazy.
  • Fooloso4
    5.6k
    1. Moral judgments are proposition (i.e., moral cognitivism).Bob Ross

    Moral judgments can be stated in propositional form, but this does not mean that they are propositions. We do not regard something as right or wrong or good or bad as the result of propositional acceptance or analysis.

    You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Moral philosophy should not begin with some set of contested definitions.
  • Fooloso4
    5.6k
    I was obviously using the example of 2+2=4 because Bob Ross had already been using it, not because I think ethics is the same as mathematics.Leontiskos

    Am I wrong to assume you are using it because you agree with it?

    You say:

    The rather obvious point of that post is that ethical claims are about ethical truths, not beliefs (or beliefs about ethical truths).Leontiskos

    This is a belief about ethical claims. While it is clear that the truth of 2+2=4 can be demonstrated, it is not clear that an ethical proposition can be demonstrated to be true. So in what way are they of the same type?
  • Janus
    15.7k
    All you can say is that “you believe that torturing babies is wrong”; and this is not normatively binding nor is it a moral proposition.Bob Ross

    If torturing babies is wrong because normal people think it is wrong then it is true that it is wrong for most people, I have not claimed anything beyond that. The very idea of objective wrongness of a moral proposition in some kind of imagined quasi-empirical or objective sense seems to be incoherent. And normative does not mean objective. Unless you take objective to mean nothing beyond 'intersubjectively agreed'.

    If it is the case that eating some food is wrong (harmful) for the human body, it does not necessarily follow that it is normatively binding not to eat that food. Note the semantic relation between "normative" and 'normal'. If we say that because it is normal to find torturing babies repugnant, then there is some normative force in saying it is generally wrong for people to do it.Normative does not equate to imperative.

    NO. You cannot deny that “torturing babies is wrong” can be evaluated as true or false (which can only be done objectively) and then turn around and say it can be if we just evaluate people’s beliefs about it.Bob Ross

    I think you have it backwards; moral principles cannot be objectively evaluated. The only such evaluations are empirical or logical, and moral beliefs cannot be evaluated in either way. Beliefs can only be evaluated normatively, that is whether or not it is normal to hold them. If someone thinks torturing babies is OK, most people will conclude there must be something wrong with them, that is normativity at work. Chasing moral objectivity beyond this kind of inter-subjective agreement amounts to chasing a chimera.

    "I feel like murdering is abhorrent" (subjectivism) and "Boo murder!" (emotivism) are in no way binding on others, and they are arguably not even binding on oneself.Leontiskos

    They are binding socially (normatively) only insofar as most normal people hold to them. So, I am not advocating moral subjectivism or skepticism, but rather a kind of moral inter-subjectivism. What is morally wrong is what most people would find to be so. Of course, I don't deny that this position has its weaknesses, and I think these show up in the case of social mores, like sex before marriage, but when it comes to significant moral issues like murder, rape, child abuse, theft, and so on I think it works well enough.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    Of course, and the statement that propositions are "objective and absolute" says nothing about either the subject or the predicate of that clause. Which is why I said it makes no sense. You haven't proven that MS equates X and "I believe X".
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    Moral subjectivism holds that moral propositions have no objective truth values independent of individual belief.

    Correct. That is why a moral subjectivist will deny that, strictly speaking, “one ought not torture babies for fun” is propositional; instead, they will say it needs to be rewritten as “I believe one ought not torture babies for fun”.

    You see you're stuck in this objective "True" or "False" mode. There isn't a "True" or "False" to a subjective moralist.

    I never claimed to the contrary. Moral subjectivists do not contend that propositions are made true relative to beliefs about them…

    They're all the same argument, or it seems that way to me, and that's why I was getting at your bias definition for belief and truth.

    I am open to there being an incredibly rare, perhaps nuanced, moral subjectivist view that is not incoherent and does not fall prey to the issue expounded in the OP...I have never heard of any.

    Trying to get around the OP by claiming beliefs about a proposition make them true (i.e., that truth itself is subjective) is not going to work: it explodes into triviality. We would not be able to coherently determine what is true or false—i.e., any proposition, P, would be true or false relative to beliefs about them and, therefore, P cannot be valuated as true or false other than trivially in terms of whether or not a person believes it is true. Truth would collapse into belief; and we would have to come up with a new word for truth proper.

    If I came to you and said your belief is false because it's not my truth, then I'm being objective.

    “my truth”, “your truth”, “their truth”, etc. is patently incoherent; and no legitimate philosopher will back that kind of idea because they know it is nonsense.

    If you want, we can dive more into the nature of truth; but I will leave it there for now. Truth being subjective holds no water, is not a respectable position, and is not a required position for moral subjectivism...and I don’t say that lightly.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    Moral judgments can be stated in propositional form, but this does not mean that they are propositions.
    We do not regard something as right or wrong or good or bad as the result of propositional acceptance or analysis.

    Then you are denying that moral subjectivism is true at best; saying word-salad at worst (e.g., how can something be stated in “propositional form”, yet not be a valid proposition?).

    You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Moral philosophy should not begin with some set of contested definitions.

    Everything starts with concepts: there’s no way around that.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    You keep resorting to reverting back to your initial claims, without engaging in my responses. Whether or not you claim moral propositions are true or false relative to one or a several beliefs about them does not get around the issue expounded in the OP. Your moral “inter-subjectivism” falls prey to the same internal inconsistencies.

    They are binding socially (normatively) only insofar as most normal people hold to them.

    There’s a difference between a proposition being binding, and people being forced to honor something: the former is binding purely in virtue of the truth-value of the proposition, whereas the latter is binding insofar as one wants to avoid the consequences of not obeying it.

    In your sense of moral obligation, its just the avoidance of consequences of not obeying what people think or desire that obligates; which isn’t real obligation in the moral sense.

    but when it comes to significant moral issues like murder, rape, child abuse, theft, and so on I think it works well enough.

    What you have described, is the irrational position that we should impose beliefs which do not even attempt, in principle, to correspond with the truth on other people. Do you see how irrational that is?

    That’s like me forcing you to drink gasoline because I (1) believe that you should although I (2) know that my belief (that you should) doesn’t correspond to anything true. That’s just masked psychopathy and narcissism.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    If truth is objective, then propositions are true or false stance-independently.
    If propositions are true or false stance-independently, then a proposition, X, cannot be true or false relative to a belief about it.
    If a proposition, X, cannot be true or false relative to a belief about it, then the only way one can express X in a way that would be true or false relative to a belief about it is by writing a new proposition, Y, that is "I believe X".

    I don't understand what you are missing: the only way to evaluate statements that are truth-apt which have their truth-value relative to a belief is to write it is a valid proposition.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Whether or not you claim moral propositions are true or false relative to one or a several beliefs about them does not get around the issue expounded in the OP. Your moral “inter-subjectivism” falls prey to the same internal inconsistencies.Bob Ross

    I don't think so. Make your argument and we'll see how it stands up.

    There’s a difference between a proposition being binding, and people being forced to honor something: the former is binding purely in virtue of the truth-value of the proposition, whereas the latter is binding insofar as one wants to avoid the consequences of not obeying it.Bob Ross

    No, most people hold to finding murder, rape, etc., morally wrong because they feel compassion for the victim, and that is normal. You keep talking about truth being binding, but it's not. There is no reason other than a love for truth that would bind someone to accepting a true claim, and even then, they may not act on it. And there I am talking about logical and/ or empirical truths.

    The "objective" truth of moral beliefs cannot even be established let alone made binding. You seem to have some kind of idealized notion of human morals. The only fact that could be established regarding attitudes to carious moral issues would be surveying people to see what they think and/ or feel about those issues. What other imaginable criterion could there be?

    What you have described, is the irrational position that we should impose beliefs which do not even attempt, in principle, to correspond with the truth on other people. Do you see how irrational that is?Bob Ross

    That is nothing like anything I've been saying. You need to read more closely. I have nowhere spoken about forcing anyone to do or not to do anything. In any case the most significant moral prescriptions, those regarding what are considered to be serious crimes, are codified in law, and those laws would not hold if most people didn't agree with them. That's normativity at work, not some kind of nebulous notion of being bound to imagined "objective" moral truths which can never be established as such.

    (e.g., how can something be stated in “propositional form”, yet not be a valid proposition?).Bob Ross

    This is classic! People can propose whatever they like, valid or not. It's the soundness, not the validity of moral "propositions: which cannot be established. I think you need to ask yourself whether you can imagine any kind of truth maker for such "propositions".
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    I don't think so. Make your argument and we'll see how it stands up.

    I already did, and I will, at this point, refer you to the OP. You are still fundamentally claiming that propositions can be made true or false relative to beliefs about them which is quite obviously the issue I was expounding in the OP.

    No, most people hold to finding murder, rape, etc., morally wrong because they feel compassion for the victim, and that is normal.

    Even if this is true, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not they are right. They are, in fact, in this case, being irrational and holding an internally inconsistent metaethical theory (without realizing it). Feelings about a proposition cannot make it true or false.

    You keep talking about truth being binding, but it's not.

    What other imaginable criterion could there be?

    What part of the following do you not understand?:

    If “I should not torture babies” is true, then I should not torture babies.
    If I should not torture babies, then I am obligated not to torture babies.
    “I should not torture babies” is true.
    Therefore, I should not torture babies.
    Therefore, I am obligated not to torture babies.

    You are confused about how moral propositions, beliefs, and truth work: if they are true, then they are binding irregardless if the subject-at-hand realizes it or is motivated by it.

    There is no reason other than a love for truth that would bind someone to accepting a true claim

    As seen above, this is obviously false: love for truth assumes that it is something beyond truth that binds us to the moral propositions when that is clearly not the case. Again, by ‘binding’, I am not commenting on what convinces people to care about what is morally (factually) true.

    I have nowhere spoken about forcing anyone to do or not to do anything. In any case the most significant moral prescriptions, those regarding what are considered to be serious crimes, are codified in law, and those laws would not hold if most people didn't agree with them.

    Lol. You denied my claim and then immediately affirmed it. If laws are merely determined by what most people belief is wrong and those beliefs do not get at what is actually true (which you are affirming because you deny that moral propositions exist like “one ought not <...>”), then you are advocating to impose beliefs that people have which, by your own concession, do not, even in principle, attempt to correspond to the truth.

    Janus, you don’t believe that there is a truth of the matter about moral judgments; so I don’t see how you are confused about this: the moral judgments you are advocating for are not even attempting to get at the truth because there is no truth of the matter. This plainly follows from what you are saying.

    This is classic! People can propose whatever they like, valid or not. It's the soundness, not the validity of moral "propositions: which cannot be established

    It is patently incoherent to think that a statement can and cannot be propositional; which is what you just said (with word-salad).

    I think you need to ask yourself whether you can imagine any kind of truth maker for such "propositions".

    This is an entirely separate question: I am just trying to get you to see the implications of your moral anti-realism; because you don’t see it yet.

    I would say that the truth-makers for moral propositions is whatever in reality would make it true (by way of the proposition corresponding to reality)...no differently than any other proposition. I am a moral naturalist: I don’t think there is anything special about moral propositions when it comes to how to evaluate them (as true or false). Ultimately, it will boil down to what is morally good, and what is the highest moral good.
  • Fooloso4
    5.6k
    Then you are denying that moral subjectivism is true at bestBob Ross

    What I am denying is that thinking constricted by select definition of terms leads to what is true at best. Rather than appeal to a definition we should determine what someone means when they use a term. It is foolish and wrongheaded to insist that what someone means is not what they say they mean but rather what you found in a definition.

    Everything starts with concepts: there’s no way around that.Bob Ross

    Morality is rooted in our immediate visceral response to what happens to us or others. My suffering does not begin with the concept of suffering. I do not need to form a concept to know that it is bad. Most of us are capable of empathy and do not first develop or appeal to a concept of empathy in order to be able to empathize. We do not need a concept of care in order to care. We do not need a concept of something mattering in order for something to matter to us.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    I already did, and I will, at this point, refer you to the OP. You are still fundamentally claiming that propositions can be made true or false relative to beliefs about them which is quite obviously the issue I was expounding in the OP.Bob Ross

    The problem is you are treating moral "propositions" as though they are empirical, logical or mathematical propositions. You can't or won't say what kind of imaginable truth makers apart from people believing them there could be for the former.

    You are confused about how moral propositions, beliefs, and truth work: if they are true, then they are binding irregardless if the subject-at-hand realizes it or is motivated by it.Bob Ross

    You just keep claiming this. You need to give an argument for why moral propositions, if they could be known to be true, would be binding. What happens if someone refuses or fails to be bound by a moral proposition even when they believe it to be true, let alone when they don't believe it to be true?

    The other point is that you apparently cannot explain how a moral proposition could ever be known to be true. If they cannot (unlike empirical, logical or mathematical propositions) be known to be true, then how could they possibly be binding (assuming that they would be binding even if they were known to be true)?

    Janus, you don’t believe that there is a truth of the matter about moral judgments; so I don’t see how you are confused about this: the moral judgments you are advocating for are not even attempting to get at the truth because there is no truth of the matter. This plainly follows from what you are saying.Bob Ross

    No, you are not listening. The only truth of moral beliefs, the only normative force they could possess, the only bindingness, lies in the fact that most normal people believe them, think and/or feel them to be true.

    It is patently incoherent to think that a statement can and cannot be propositional; which is what you just said (with word-salad).Bob Ross

    Because moral statements are not truth-apt, beyond the empirical facts of whether people believe them, I don't see how they qualify as propositions in the sense that empirical, logical or mathematical do, so I see the incoherence as being yours.

    This is an entirely separate question: I am just trying to get you to see the implications of your moral anti-realism; because you don’t see it yet.Bob Ross

    It's not an entirely separate question because the very coherence of your reference to moral beliefs, feelings, thoughts or statements as "propositions" hinges on it. This is, ironically, something you don't see, while accusing me of not seeing something which you apparently cannot identify or are at least yet to identify. If there is something you think I don't see, then spell it out; I'm listening.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    What I am denying is that thinking constricted by select definition of terms leads to what is true at best. Rather than appeal to a definition we should determine what someone means when they use a term. It is foolish and wrongheaded to insist that what someone means is not what they say they mean but rather what you found in a definition.

    What I was saying, is that, at best, what you were conveying (viz., the underlying meaning of which you were speaking) was denying moral subjectivism.

    My suffering does not begin with the concept of suffering. I do not need to form a concept to know that it is bad. Most of us are capable of empathy and do not first develop or appeal to a concept of empathy in order to be able to empathize. We do not need a concept of care in order to care. We do not need a concept of something mattering in order for something to matter to us.

    What I meant to say is: “every analysis starts with concepts”. I have no problem with the idea that we start with notions and not ideas; but a proper analysis starts and ends with ideas (i.e., concepts). You cannot analyze X if you do not have an idea about what X is.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Well I tend to agree, but you are the one claiming that feelings are truth-makers for moral propositions. :wink:Leontiskos

    I'm claiming that MS is consistent, at least, and making a steel-man attempt at making it plausible to its detractors. My pet theory is error theory just to put my cards out there, but I'm trying to think through the position and see if there's some way to render it coherent, and palatable to those on the other side as an example of the meta-ethic.

    Capital-F Feelings are the truth-makers in this hypothetical meta-ethic. The sorts of examples I've given here are "X wants to be Y" -- the emotions arise because of the Feelings, to think of "emotions" as you do here:

    Colloquially we have phrases to represent this, such as, "Do not be carried away by your emotions!" When we become pure patients, at the whim of our emotions, something has gone wrong. E-motions are moving forces which are meant to coordinate with our agency, not to override and destroy our agency.Leontiskos

    Feelings are attachments to people, things, ideals, propositions, states of mind, patterns, and, in some cases, morals. And I've also allowed that "Feelings" may be collective, in some sense, to accommodate things like legal and collective -- not just individual -- moral rules. It seems to me that this must be the motivation for the MS position because they want to retain that some moral propositions are true in the way that it's intuitively felt, but don't believe there is an objective science or something along those lines.

    Mostly I'll be content with finding a coherent rendition, if there is one, that is accepted as an example by the OP.

    If emotions are the things by which we are to know what to do, then what is the thing that tells us to not act on an emotion?Leontiskos

    Another emotion. Anger can arise from an attachment to a self-image as one who doesn't take any guff and being insulted. When a friend intervenes it can remind you of times you've felt guilt when losing your temper and help one to regain control.

    Far from being separate from rationality I'd say emotions are part of rationality, so MS doesn't strike me as apparently incoherent. I'd claim that when Jesus expels the money-changers from the temple that he is enacting a rationality because his anger is justified.

    Seems like an explicit thread on meta-ethics or the philosophy of emotion might be fun.

    It's not an emotion, because emotions don't persuade, they overpower or incline. What I am assuming here is that the experience of the emotion is what constitutes the truth-maker. Of course the emotion-subjectivist could draw up an extrinsic map about which truths are "made" by which emotions, and that map might include, "Anger →

    do not strike," but this is pretty weird given the fact that the experience of anger tells us to strike. Such a map apparently cannot be emotion-based if it is telling us to act contrary to emotion. (Anger is relevant because I do not think an emotion-based ethic would be able to restrain anger nearly as much as our common, rational ethics do.)

    The point here is that whatever it is that establishes the hierarchy, it isn't emotion. Emotion does not do calculus. I am convinced that reason establishes the hierarchy, but I am content with the claim that whatever it is, it isn't emotion. This reduced claim seems sufficient to overcome emotion-subjectivism.
    Leontiskos

    We've identified a point of explicit divergence! :D

    I see no problem in emotions establishing hierarchies on the basis of their intensity.

    "Calculus" is confusing on my part -- I just meant in the generic sense where logical symbol manipulation or the operations of a computer are also calculus -- so it need not even be numeric, and can even be a philosophical calculus rather than something truly mathematical. Spinoza's Ethics comes to mind here.

    I think this misses the point I have already made about emotion-as-sign vs. emotion-as-cause. To claim that ethics is just emotion-conditioning would be to reject ethics as a cognitive science.Leontiskos

    Isn't the MS doing that?

    Though I wouldn't do it for the MS position, I don't think ethics is a cognitive science either. Another reason a meta-ethics thread might be interesting.

    "I act this way because my emotions determine me, and my emotions are determined by the conditioning that my parents and society imposed, and their emotions were determined by the conditioning that was imposed upon them, ad infinitum." This is more a theory of emotional determinism than a theory of ethics, and as such it destroys the agency of the human being (as already noted). Ethics involves making choices, not just being pulled around by emotions.Leontiskos

    And another reason for a thread on the philosophy of emotion.

    I don't believe emotion eliminates choice, for instance, so that'd be another reason I don't see the MS position as necessarily wrong.

    There is causal confusion at play, here. Does the choice lead to the ethic, or does attachment to the ethic lead to the choice? I think the cognitive aspect of ethics is again being trampled, especially if the attachment leads to the choice. Plato would say that reason (choice, deliberation) can be subordinated to the passions, but that this is a form of passion-tyranny.Leontiskos

    Couldn't it be both? Even for Plato -- if one is ruled by Passion then one would choose a Passionate ethic, just as the one who is ruled by Reason chooses the rational ethic, yes?

    But what is the "utterance" which can be reduced to, "One ought not lose their temper"? On your theory of emotion-subjectivism an emotion is supposedly translated into moral propositions of this sort, but I'm still waiting for you to cash out this claim that the emotion is the truth-maker for the moral proposition. Prima facie, the claim doesn't make any sense. What is the emotion that translates into the moral proposition, "One ought not lose their temper"?Leontiskos

    "I'm sorry, I won't do it again" or something like that works. The emotion would be guilt. The Feeling would be "I want to be accepted by my friends".

    You worried that I am divorcing reason from emotion, but here it seems that you are the one doing that. You contrast four things with philosophy/the cognitive part and assume that they are devoid of reason: recognition, shame, anger, and relief. I don't think emotions are separable from reason in this way. See for example my analysis of fear <here>.Leontiskos

    If they aren't separable, which I agree with, then in speaking about the emotions I am also speaking about reason. They come as a pair.

    Recognition requires reason -- I have to see myself, and I have to know what sort of person I want to be, and I have to see that I am not that.

    Shame requires reason -- I have to want to please someone(even if that someone is only myself), I have to be able to perceive "good" and "bad" actions

    Anger -- I have to be able to recognize a before-and-after of myself. The anger arises because you no longer feel the shame due to forgiveness, but it's a conflict between the old and the new self. One must be able to determine what that old and new self is, which requires a fairly robust set of moral beliefs with emotional attachments.

    Relief -- The trial is over and I'll remember the guilt so as to not have to go through it again. This requires memory, a knowledge of narrative, and the idea that one can undergo some kind of change from the act to a person who is forgiven.


    The reason all that requires reason is that a person can also, in the same situation, see themselves as justified in their anger, and the person who gets in the way is only an obstacle in the way of what's fair. That's not a friend anymore, that's a pesky and ignorant person getting in the way of what's fair!

    Do you see how this isn't a divorce of reason from emotion?

    Also... another thread here lol.

    I think a shift is occurring here. Instead of trying to support moral propositions in the way that standard ethics does, the moral subjectivist turns to abductive ethical reasoning and combines it with the assumption that whatever best supports moral propositions, sufficiently supports moral propositions. I think the reason moral subjectivism is basically non-existent in professional philosophy is because it is recognized that even if nothing supports moral propositions better than attitudes, it remains the case that attitudes are insufficient to support moral propositions. In that case one turns away from moral cognitivism and classical ethics.Leontiskos

    Oh, it could also just be the hot new thing. You never know.

    I just like to explore ideas, be they professional or not, though.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    The problem is you are treating moral "propositions" as though they are empirical, logical or mathematical propositions.

    They would have to be, or they aren’t propositions at all. That’s the mistake you keep making: you think there are types of propositions.

    You can't or won't say what kind of imaginable truth makers apart from people believing them there could be for the former

    I already did: I said it would be what is morally good (which is not dependent on beliefs). A moral proposition is not special with regard to the overall form: it is a proposition, afterall.

    If you want more details, then I am a moral naturalist and neo-aristotelian. I think that what is intrinsically valuable are various states of being which living beings are capable of having—the highest, or most intrinsically valuable, of which is eudaimonia. To be a eudaimon is the highest moral good of them all, and to reach it one must fulfill their nature.

    You just keep claiming this. You need to give an argument for why moral propositions, if they could be known to be true, would be binding.

    Janus...I did and you ignored it!!!

    Let’s try again:

    What part of the following do you not understand?:

    If “I should not torture babies” is true, then I should not torture babies.
    If I should not torture babies, then I am obligated not to torture babies.
    “I should not torture babies” is true.
    Therefore, I should not torture babies.
    Therefore, I am obligated not to torture babies.

    The other point is that you apparently cannot explain how a moral proposition could ever be known to be true.

    It can be known to be true, if what the proposition refers to corresponds to reality. It terms of what about reality they correspond to, besides noting it is what is morally good, one would have to delve into a specific moral realist position.

    The only truth of moral beliefs, the only normative force they could possess, the only bindingness, lies in the fact that most normal people believe them,

    Then, that is not truth, nor are they normatively binding (in the strict, traditional sense). You cannot have the cake and eat it too (;

    Because moral statements are not truth-apt

    Then they don’t have the “form of a proposition”.

    I don't see how they qualify as propositions in the sense that empirical, logical or mathematical do

    Then, you don’t think they are propositions; and should abandon your view that beliefs make moral propositions true or false. You can’t just ad hoc change what a proposition is because you don’t believe moral statements fit the standard description.

    coherence of your reference to moral beliefs, feelings, thoughts or statements as "propositions" hinges on it.

    I have never invoked any moral beliefs, feelings, or thoughts that are propositions; but, yes, a statement can be one...that’s just the nature of propositions 101: a proposition is a truth-apt statement.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    P1: A stance taken on the trueness or falseness of something, is independent of the trueness or falseness of that something.
    P2: A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition.
    C1: Therefore, a belief about a proposition cannot make that proposition true or false.
    Bob Ross

    Rereading this argument -- your P1 doesn't match 1 from above it:

    1. A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition; and
    2. Beliefs make moral propositions true or false.
    Bob Ross

    "Cognitive" doesn't necessitate truth-independence. The Liar's sentence, for instance: we can think "This sentence is false", meaning we can cognize it, but the truth, or falsity, of the Liar's sentence is wholly dependent upon how we interpret the sentence.

    That we can cognize fantasy and falsity is part of the difficulty with realism.

    Also, another thought: What if the MS was a coherentist on truth? In that case beliefs fit within an inferential web, and that web just is what truth is, so they'd claim to be a cognitivist while stating that they do believe that beliefs depend upon one another for their truth or falsity.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    They would have to be, or they aren’t propositions at all. That’s the mistake you keep making: you think there are types of propositions.Bob Ross

    The mistake you are making is believing that I think there are moral propositions, when I think I have made it quite clear that I don't think there are.

    You can't or won't say what kind of imaginable truth makers apart from people believing them there could be for the former

    I already did: I said it would be what is morally good (which is not dependent on beliefs).
    Bob Ross

    Unfortunately for your argument you are depending on something which either doesn't exist or is unknowable. It is nothing more than an empty tautology to say that what is morally good is a truth maker for what is morally good.

    It can be known to be true, if what the proposition refers to corresponds to reality.Bob Ross

    How would we know if it corresponded to reality? What kind of reality? Certainly not an empirical reality. So, it's of no help to us.

    Then, that is not truth, nor are they normatively binding (in the strict, traditional sense). You cannot have the cake and eat it too (;Bob Ross

    You're really not paying attention. I've already said I don't think anything is "morally binding". The very idea is incoherent, meaningless as far as I can tell. Even if there were a God, a lawgiver of objective moral truths, that would not be "binding", it certainly isn't for those who profess to be believers, even priests. As I said before the normative is what is normal, not what is imperative.

    Because moral statements are not truth-apt

    Then they don’t have the “form of a proposition”.
    Bob Ross

    Now you're starting to get it.

    Then, you don’t think they are propositions; and should abandon your view that beliefs make moral propositions true or false. You can’t just ad hoc change what a proposition is because you don’t believe moral statements fit the standard description.Bob Ross

    I said that what people believe, morally speaking, makes it true for themselves, in the sense of being "true to themselves". I said that if all normal people believe in some moral principle, or to feeling something is right or wrong, then it makes it true, makes it right or wrong, for all those normal people. Those normal people make up the largest part of the communities we live in, and the fact that they all agree on moral issues constitutes normativity, not some abstract principle or some purported objective moral imperative, the guarantor for which can bever be found.

    I have never invoked any moral beliefs, feelings, or thoughts that are propositions; but, yes, a statement can be one...that’s just the nature of propositions 101: a proposition is a truth-apt statement.Bob Ross

    People stating their feelings or beliefs does not necessarily qualify as propositional..
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